Internal division over proposed curbs on Danish citizenship: report

Government proposals to tighten rules over citizenship have met with opposition within the Liberal party, the senior partner in Denmark’s coalition government, according to a report.

Internal division over proposed curbs on Danish citizenship: report
Parliament earlier this month. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

One element of the proposal, which would see “unemployment insurance payouts in principle serve to hinder the granting of Danish citizenship,” has been a particular cause of disagreement, newspaper Politiken reports according to sources.

The proposed curbs would encompass the unemployment insurance, dagpenge in Danish, for which membership is obtained by paying a monthly fee to a provider known in Denmark as an a-kasse.

MP Martin Geertsen told the newspaper that the party will seek to remove “thorns” from the proposal.

Geertsen said the Liberal party slogan was “’yes’ to those who can and will, ‘no’ to those who won’t”.

“And when you insure yourself against unemployment, which is what we are asking people to do, that effectively means you are saying ‘yes’ to Denmark. So I think the part about [that] which is contained in the proposed curbs is a concern,” he said.

“There are some thorny issues that are worse than others, particularly the issue of maternity or paternity leave. Namely the aspect that you can take maternity leave or paternity leave and be insured for that, but then are punished by seeing citizenship potentially be delayed due to the insurance payout,” he continued.

A number of Liberal MPs are reported by Politiken to have raised the issue at a recent meeting between the party’s lawmakers.

Jan E. Jørgensen, spokesperson for citizenship issues with the Liberal party, said his party was not the one pushing for unemployment insurance to be taken into account by the citizenship overhaul.

“It is no secret that it was important for the [libertarian, ed.] Liberal Alliance party to bring unemployment insurance into the equation,” Jørgensen told Politiken, but declined to state his own position on the maternity and paternity leave aspect.

A second element of the proposal is also reported to have caused disunity in Liberal ranks: the provision to permanently exclude an applicant from being granted Danish citizenship if they have committed “violence against children”.

The wording of that part of the proposal would mean a fight between two teenagers – for example a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old – could lead to citizenship exclusion for the 18-year-old, who would be legally defined as an adult.

Citizenship secretaries from the three government parties, parliamentary ally the Danish People’s Party, and the opposition Social Democrats, who also support citizenship curbs, are currently negotiating the final version of the bill with immigration minister Inger Støjberg.

Current rules on citizenship application already require applicants not to have received state welfare support (kontanthjælp in Danish) as part of requirements for ‘self-sufficiency’.

The proposed curbs would extend those requirements to also encompass the unemployment insurance, for which membership is obtained by paying a monthly fee to an a-kasse.

Currently, all a-kasse members become eligible for unemployment benefits after having paid the membership fee continuously for one year.

That rule itself could be changed to implement stricter requirements for foreigners, should a tax plan currently under parliamentary procedure be passed as expected.


For members


Do children born in Denmark automatically get Danish citizenship?

A Danish passport comes with many benefits, and the country allows dual citizenship. But what are the rules for the children of foreign nationals born in Denmark?

Do children born in Denmark automatically get Danish citizenship?

Denmark allows dual citizenship, meaning it is possible for foreign residents to gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship, if their country of origin also permits dual citizenship. There are a few benefits that only Danish citizens have, such as an absolute right to live and work in the country and the right to vote in Danish parliamentary elections.

Some jobs are only open to Danish citizens as well: you must be a Danish citizen if you wish to be elected to parliament or join the police.

In addition to this, Danish nationals hold EU citizenship, which gives them the right to free movement in EU member states, making it easier for them to live and work in other parts of the bloc.

Danish at birth

Unlike in other countries such as the United States, people born in Denmark do not automatically gain Danish citizenship.

Danish citizenship is granted at birth to children who have at least one Danish parent, regardless of whether the child is born in Denmark or not. For children born before July 1st 2014, this depends on the law in force when the child was born and other requirements may need to be fulfilled.


Dual citizenship

On the September 1st 2015, a new Nationality Act meant foreign residents could gain Danish citizenship without giving up their old citizenship.

It also meant that former Danish citizens who lost their Danish nationality by acquiring a foreign nationality could become Danish citizens again by making a declaration to the Ministry of Immigration and Integration. The new timetable to make this declaration is between July 1st 2021 and June 30th 2026.

Children born abroad: The 22-Year Rule 

Children born abroad to a Danish parent but who have never lived in Denmark, or visited for a lengthy period of time (adding up to at least a year which has to be documented) lose their Danish citizenship at the age of 22, unless it means the person becomes stateless.

Danish children born abroad must therefore apply to retain their Danish citizenship before the age of 22. If they are still living abroad at the time, their connection to Denmark will be assessed. This takes into account the number of visits to Denmark and level of Danish.

The Princess Rule

Children born in marriage to a Danish mother and a father of foreign nationality during the period of January 1st 1961 to  December 31st 1978 did not obtain Danish nationality by birth. As an alternative, Danish mothers had the option to make a declaration by which their child obtained Danish nationality.

Children born during this period whose mother did not make a declaration to this effect may apply for Danish nationality by naturalisation according to the “Princess Rule”.

Does a child born to foreigners need a residence permit?

If you are a child born in Denmark by foreign national parents, you need to apply for a residence permit.

The requirements for qualifying for a residence permit are more relaxed than for children born abroad. The child needs to either be registered as a family member to an EU citizen if under the age of 21, or registered under family reunification if the parents are not EU citizens.

The child’s residence permit will expire when the parent’s residence permit expires and can also be extended with the parent’s permit. It may also be possible for the child to obtain a permanent residence permit aged 18 by meeting more lenient requirements.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Denmark?

When can my child gain Danish citizenship?

If your child is born in Denmark but neither parent is Danish, they have to wait until one parent is granted citizenship.

Danish requirements for citizenship are some of the toughest in the world and you must meet a number of closely-defined criteria in order to be eligible for citizenship by naturalisation.

The wish to include a child in the application has to be stated and they must be under the age of 18, have Danish residency, not have committed any crime and be unmarried. No fee is payable for minors. Children aged 12 or over must give their consent to becoming Danish.

READ ALSO: How to apply for citizenship in Denmark